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Fact check: Ad accusations flying in Arizona's Secretary of State race

Posted at 9:47 PM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 20:20:24-04

With Republican Michele Reagan's defeat by Steve Gaynor in the primary, there is an open seat for Arizona's next Secretary of State. Gaynor is being challenged by Democrat Katie Hobbs, and the race has seen a variety of claims flying in political ads.

One of Hobbs' recent ads portrays a voter with a ballot and a facetious tone. But the tone it takes when it makes an allegation against Republican Steve Gaynor sounds pretty serious.

"Gaynor cheated employees out of overtime pay and his company was forced to pay," a voice on the ad says.

Documents filed in California Superior Court show Gaynor's California-based printing company paid more than $125,000 in a class action settlement. The lawsuit alleged the company cooked the books and shifted employees' work hours to avoid paying overtime. Gaynor downplays the suit and denies any wrongdoing.

"We settled because it was financially smart, not because there was a problem," Gaynor said in a recent interview with ABC15.

On the flip side, Gaynor's ads accuse Hobbs of casting votes in the state legislature that hinder small businesses. The Gaynor ad cherry picked data for 2016 from the National Federation of Independent Business. It showed Hobbs voted in favor of legislation friendly to small businesses just 13 percent of the time. Hobbs' yearly NFIB voter record has been historically low. However, her more recent rating for 2017 was slightly better at 30 percent. The data for 2014 shows the NIFB gave her a 50 percent rating. 

Perhaps the most ominous sounding part of Gaynor's ad says this:

Katie Hobbs says she'll use the office to elect more radical leftists. 

The ad is referring to comments Hobbs made at an April appearance for women candidates in Coconino County. Video posted on YouTube by the Coconino County Democratic Party show the remarks in question.  

"I think we're going to do really well in electing statewide Democrats. And the Secretary of State's Office is how we're going to hold on to those wins, how we're going to continue to make gains in the legislature and create a state that reflects all of our values," she says in the video.

A spokesperson for Hobbs clarified the comments by saying Hobbs meant the political playing field needs to be leveled to represent all Arizonans. He also wrote in an email:

It's a misleading attack taken out of context. But it's no surprise given Steve Gaynor has no record to run on and has admitted that he isn't qualified for the job he's seeking. 

In the latest ABC15/OH Predictive Insights poll, Hobbs is behind Gaynor by a 14-percent margin: 50 percent to 36 percent. In that poll, 14 percent of voters were undecided.